Plans were unveiled last week to scrap grants given to Welsh university students towards their tuition fees.  Welsh education minister Jan Hutt, said that she would like a “significant proportion” of the £61m funding available, to be redirected towards students from lower-income households.  Currently, students studying in Wales automatically receive £1,890 a year towards tuition fees. 

Under the new plans proposed by Hutt, grants will still be available but only on a means-tested basis for those from lower-incomes households.   The money will also help provide debt relief for graduates, although it has not been mentioned how.  Hutt said that the plans would “widen access, help tackle student debt and provide a substantial investment boost to our higher education sector”.  If approved, the new system would be introduced in 2010.

These proposals are in response to an individual review panel’s findings, stating that existing grants did not help students from low-income households studying inside and outside of Wales; while at the same time the grants provide “generous fee support” for students from European countries.  Failing to provide financial help for foreign students could spell a potential drop in the number of foreign student’s applying to Welsh universities in the future.

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  • I think it’s JanE Hutt.

    It’s worth noting that these grants were put in place originally to essentially negate the effect of top-up fees on Welsh students. Members of the Welsh Assembly voted this way to protect the funding of Welsh Institutions, but also to protect their students.

    If the grants are to be dropped for all but low-income students, it will be interesting to see how this change in funding is handled once the £3000 cap is lifted by Westminster.